Red Cross Decries Reprehensible Yemen Attacks

People walk past damaged cars at the entrance of Al-Thawra hospital after  an airstrike in the Red Sea town of Hodaida on August 2.People walk past damaged cars at the entrance of Al-Thawra hospital after  an airstrike in the Red Sea town of Hodaida on August 2.

As a series of airstrikes by Saudi forces on Thursday on Yemen’s Houthi forces in the port city of Hodaida killed 55 civilians and wounded dozens of others, the Red Cross denounced the “reprehensible” disregard for human life.

The attacks, which were also denounced by a senior UN official, come as the United Nations has said it will invite warring sides in Yemen for talks on September 6 in Geneva to discuss a framework for peace negotiations, reported France 24.

UN-brokered political talks on Yemen broke down in 2016 amid demands for Houthi forces’ withdrawal from key cities and power-sharing with the Saudi-backed government.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a military campaign to restore the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power and push back the Houthi forces that hold the capital Sanaa.

The war has left nearly 10,000 people dead and unleashed what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday said 55 civilians were killed and 170 others wounded “when a series of explosions rocked densely populated districts of the coastal city, including a fish market and the area around Al-Thawra Hospital.”

It was the first independent toll since the attack took place. An earlier toll Thursday by medics and witnesses had said at least 20 people were killed and 60 wounded in an airstrike at the hospital and the bombardment of the fish market in Hodaida.

Al-Thawra hospital, Yemen’s largest, is supported by the ICRC, which also said that two ambulances were destroyed in Thursday’s attacks. But the ICRC said the details of the attacks were still unknown.

“While the exact circumstances around the ground explosions are still unknown, this lack of respect for civilian life and civilian property is reprehensible,” Johannes Bruwer, head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen, said in a statement on Friday.

 Horrific Scenes

“The scenes coming from Hodaida are horrific. The disregard of international humanitarian law in Yemen cannot be tolerated,” said Bruwer, condemning the attacks.

Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, earlier said hundreds of thousands of people depend on Al-Thawra. “This is shocking,” she said of the attacks.

“Hospitals are protected under international humanitarian law. Nothing can justify this loss of life,” she added.

Yemeni government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition have been conducting an offensive to capture Hodaida from the Houthi forces. Last month they said they were pausing the assault to give UN mediation efforts a chance. But strikes have picked up again around Hodaida since the Saudis last week said two oil tankers operated by one of the kingdom’s companies were attacked in the waters of the Red Sea.

 Humanitarian Catastrophe

The fighting around Hodaida has raised UN fears of a new humanitarian catastrophe in a country already standing on the brink of famine and gripped by a deadly cholera epidemic.

“Every day this week we have seen new cholera cases in Hodaida, and now this,” Grande said.

“The impact of the strikes is appalling. Everything we are trying to do to stem the world’s worst cholera epidemic is at risk.”

In Geneva, the World Health Organization warned that Yemen is likely to be struck by another “major wave” of cholera cases, calling for a three-day truce to allow vaccinations.


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